Success: Endangered Black-Footed Ferret Clones Drive Resurgence

Target: Martha Williams, Director of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Goal: Support strides made in cloning of endangered black-footed ferrets.

The black-footed ferret has experienced a tumultuous history, having spent much of the past century on the critically endangered list. At one point in the late 1970s, the species (sometimes called prairie dog hunters or American polecats) was even believed to be extinct. This ForceChange petition brought attention to threats posed to one of North America’s most endangered animals and called for action. Scientists are answering with an innovative solution.

Colorado’s National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center and Virginia’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute are now the proud homes of Noreen and Antonia, respectively. These two adorable animals represent the nation’s first successful clones of an endangered species. Several conservation interests came together for this ambitious initiative, and their efforts have produced ferrets that are healthy, developmentally strong, and nearing reproductive age where they can contribute to the further flourishing of their species. The ferrets, along with another ferret named Elizabeth Ann, were cloned from tissue samples taken from Willa: a black-footed ferret who lived during the 1980s. The cloned ferrets also introduce needed genetic diversity into existing black-footed ferret populations found in the wild.

Sign the petition below to thank the federal agency that played a key role in making this scientific and conservation advancement possible.


Dear Director Williams,

Since the last known wild populations of North America’s only native ferret (and one of the world’s most endangered mammals) were discovered in Wyoming over four decades ago, this agency has prioritized conserving and protecting the black-footed ferret. Who could have guessed that a ferret captured during this period of uncertainty would one day lead to the potential rejuvenizing of this troubled species? Now, Elizabeth Ann, Noreen, and Antonia are living proof of the promise science holds in helping save vulnerable animals.

This agency and its partners are to be commended for the revolutionary cloning initiative that opens up another avenue for bringing endangered species back from the brink of extinction.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: USFWS Mountain Prairie

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